Photo of several people sitting around a wooden conference table in a meeting.
Photo from the previous March 2023 Steering Committee meeting in Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI. Photo by Amanda Sesser.

The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) Executive Steering Committee met on August 28th to discuss the draft SECAS charter, strategic communications, the upcoming SECAS Symposium at the 77th annual Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Conference, engagement with State Fish and Wildlife Agency Directors, and Southeast Conservation Blueprint and Goal Report updates, among other topics. The SECAS Executive Steering Committee, which is a formal joint-party committee of SEAFWA, is a governing board of the partnership tasked with setting high-level priorities and direction. It includes Directors of five State Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southeast. The Executive Director of SEAFWA also participates in Steering Committee meetings.

  • “For more than a decade, SECAS has been a regional force for voluntary collaborative conservation, working across jurisdictions while recognizing individual conservation missions to achieve the landscape conservation outcomes needed to sustain ecosystems and communities.” —Robert Boyles, Director of the SC Dept. of Natural Resources & Chair of the SECAS Executive Steering Committee

The primary focus of the meeting, the draft SECAS charter, describes the historical context of the SECAS partnership, which began in 2011 as a subcommittee of SEAFWA, and the intent of the partnership to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century through effective collaboration among agencies and organizations responsible for the Southeast’s natural and cultural resources–while honoring differing organizational responsibilities and authorities. In addition to the SECAS vision, goal, and statement of shared purpose, the draft charter outlines the governance and decision-making policies of the Executive Steering Committee. The draft charter is another step in the evolution of the SECAS partnership, which is growing, learning, and improving. Formal adoption of the charter by the SEAFWA Board of Directors is expected at their annual business meeting in October.

The Steering Committee also provided feedback on a tailored “elevator pitch” intended to help members communicate the value of SECAS to fellow State Directors.

In addition, Nicole Angeli, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Division of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, accepted an invitation to serve on the Steering Committee. She fills a recent vacancy left by the retirement of former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton. Her membership on the Steering Committee is particularly timely given the focus of the 2023 Blueprint update to expand consistent methods and indicators to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.